Requiem by Lauren Oliver – review (guest reviewed by Jaclyn Gata)

REQUIEM (Delirium, book 3) by Lauren Oliver
Harpercollins, 2013, 432 pages, 9780062014542, Paperback, $9.99

Genre: Young Adult/Science Fiction/Romance

Requiem is the last novel of the Delirium series, but it is by no means my favorite book of the trilogy. It‘s fast paced, but very few of the reader’s questions are answered.

Lauren Oliver once again changes her structural style in this book. The story is split between Lena and her high school friend Hana, who has already gone through the cure and has been matched up with one of the elite in their city. The alternating chapters make for an interesting comparison to Lena’s struggles in the rebellion. Hana’s life is cold and privileged; she spends her time at parties thrown by her soon-to-be husband, who is also a soon-to-be senator. Her life is explained through this quote: “Perfection is a promise, and a reassurance that we are not wrong.” Very soon, Hana reveals that she was the one who reported Lena and Alex to the government because of her intense jealously of their relationship.

Hana goes through a metamorphosis, not only in this book but also during the time when we have not heard anything from her. Her original character was aching for the adventure that Lena found, and she became bitterly jealous to the point of destroying her best friend. It would appear that this world not only takes away romantic love, but it destroys any type of relationship, even friendship. In this final book, we see Hana struggle with her new-found freedom of emotion and her lack of feelings. At the end, however, it is her detachment from her new husband, which allows her to let him die, that makes her seem human.

Hana is one of the few who goes through any type of dynamic growth in this book. We finally receive more background about some of the other characters who were introduced in Pandemonium, but there is very little that changes about these characters. Julian, who seemed much stronger in Pandemonium, is ignored, hardly speaks, and is turned into a small child who needs to be taken care of. This can be attributed to Alex’s “reincarnation.” As Lena states, “Over the past week, I’ve accepted that I will never love Julian as much as I loved Alex. But now that idea is overwhelming, like a wall between us. I will never love Julian like I love Alex.” Yet, I still find it hard to believe that this could cause him to have little to no interaction or growth in the novel.

Alex, as well, has completely changed from Delirium, which is not unexpected from his time in the Crypts. If you read the short story written by Oliver about his time there, however, his cold behavior towards Lena is almost unprecedented. “It was a lie. Okay? It was all a lie. Craziness, like they always said. Just forget about it. Forget it ever happened.” It was somewhat disappointing after spending most of Pandemonium hoping that he was still alive only to find that he was, but he was unwilling to fight for Lena at all.

Lena actually spends little of this book struggling over her problems with Alex and Julian, and, instead, focuses on the rebellion.

While I generally dislike love triangles and find them cliché, Oliver skips over the romance almost completely and provides no real resolution. Instead, it’s largely left open for interpretation. I would have preferred it had she had followed through with her plotline instead.

Additionally, there is no way to avoid that this is a series about love, and an ending that does not address the most obvious romantic problems is annoying.

It is refreshing, however, that Lena does put her personal problems aside to deal with the importance of the rebellion. Her love triangle is not the only one, as her mother makes an appearance and they have to meet for the first time. This, too, is almost brushed aside and may leave readers feeling disappointed.

Besides her personal problems, Lena seems to be at the peak of her characterization. She is strong, courageous and does not allow anything to get in the way of the rebellion. She is no longer the weak child who fell in love with Alex, and one has to wonder if they really have anything in common anymore. She isn’t who she once was.

The series ending is ambiguous all around, and we hardly know what happens to any of the characters unless they’ve died. I’ve never, personally, liked those kinds of endings, nor have I met anyone who has, but if you don’t mind the open-endedness, then this series is a good one to read. If you, too, dislike ambiguous endings, however, and tend to throw books like A Handmaid’s Tale across the room when you’re finished, like I did, then you might find the ending of this series a little hard to swallow.

The series, as a whole, had a few problems with characterization and a messy plot. Once again, Oliver’s writing saves the series. And, despite the flaws, I did still read the entire series in a few days, having no problems until I reached the end.

I wouldn’t be opposed to reading more of Oliver’s work, though, right now, she only has two other books published. I am, however, looking forward to her new book, Panic, which released in March.

Try more like this!

Delirium by Lauren Oliver – review
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver – review
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl – review

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